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My Typical Cystoscopy

My Typical Cystoscopy

When you are told you need to have a cystoscopy, it can be quite terrifying.  Inserting an endoscope into your bladder with a camera on the end, while awake, scared me to death. I was practically shaking when I went in for my first one. Now, almost two years later, it is more of a nuisance and temporary uncomfortableness. Here is my experience with each scope.

Giving a urine sample

I arrive at my Urologist’s office, and the nurse takes me in immediately to give a urine sample. I am then asked to wait in the waiting room. After a urinalysis is run to ensure I don’t have a bladder infection, I am called backed to the treatment room.

I am left alone to strip from the waist down and sit on a table with a sheet over me. The nurse comes back in.

(The following may be too graphic of a description for you – warning).

Beginning the procedure

She then has me lay down on the bed with stirrups, feet way up in the air. She applies a topical numbing agent and then calls in the doctor. He comes in, puts on his sterile gown and gloves, and begins the procedure. He inserts the catheter, and I am able to look up over my shoulder and see the screen/camera. I can feel the scope moving inside me, and I can see the images on the screen. We are able to view my ureters as urine is entering my bladder. The urologist asked me immediately, “Do you take vitamins?” I answered, “Yes, why?” He stated that people who take vitamins and/or supplements tend to have darker urine, and he could see it coming right from my ureters – it was a dark color. The screen is clear, shiny, pink flesh, until…

The tumors look much bigger than they actually are

There are those strange looking things. It is magnified and intensified so that the tumors actually remind me of mushrooms. I also reminded me of coral waving in the oceans. Of course, they look much bigger than they actually are, so that is when my doctor usually begins calming me down. The nurse and the Urologist are the only two people in the room, so they want to make sure you remain calm and don’t tense up.

Removing tumors with the TURBT procedure

He then pulls out the scope, and we are done. IF tumors are found, I am scheduled for a TURBT procedure to remove the tumors.

The Bladder Cancer Advocacy Network (BCAN) describes the TURBT procedure as an “‘incision-less’ surgery usually performed as an outpatient procedure. It is the first-line surgical treatment for bladder tumors…Attached to a scope is a small, electrified loop of wire which is moved back and forth through the tumor to cut and remove the tissue… One of the advantages of this procedure is that it can be performed repeatedly with minimal risk to the patient and with excellent results.

If it is clear, I go back once a week for 3 weeks to get BCG (preventative) and then schedule my next cystoscopy in three months.

Side effects

Overall, the procedure is what I would call painless but very uncomfortable. I usually have a bit of stinging for 24 hours each time I urinate. Sometimes, not always, I get bladder spasms, for which I take over-the-counter AZO (greatest investment you can make if you have bladder cancer). My Urologist gave me a prescription for Oxybutrin to stop the spasms; however, it causes me to become dehydrated so I don’t take it unless I am desperate.

So, it is going into my third year since my initial diagnosis, and I am a bladder cancer survivor with continued treatment.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • gailvin
    8 months ago

    Describes quite accurately my experiences. I have no issue with oxybutrin.

  • Jennifer Toth moderator author
    8 months ago

    So glad to hear Oxybutrin worked well for you.

  • Sarah Wallin moderator
    8 months ago

    @gailvin, I’m glad you were able to relate to Jennifer’s experience. It can be comforting to know you aren’t the only one! -Sarah ( Team Member)

  • lori
    1 year ago

    Thanks for sharing! You’ve described the procedures very well. I was diagnosed in August and a week later I had my first TURBT they removed 4 low grade tumors and put chemo into my bladder. At my 3 month cystoscopy they found 4 new low grade tumors and calcium deposits they think was an adverse reaction to the chemo. That week I was scheduled for another TURBT, and the tumors were removed and no chemo was done this time. Now we’re waiting 3 months for my next cystoscopy scheduled for March. I guess this will be my new “normal” and I will consider it routine maintenance. I’m with you on the AZO, great stuff! The Oxybutrin was terrible, I would rather suffer the spasms than all the other side affects it gave me like dehydration, headache dizziness and blurred vision.

  • Sarah Wallin moderator
    1 year ago

    @lori – I’m glad this article described the procedures very well and that you found this relatable. You sound like a champion after all those TURBTs and chemo. Keep us updated on how you’re feeling in the days leading up to your cystoscopy for March. It’s definitely a lot to get used to, this “new normal”, so know that this community can relate and is here for you. Glad that AZO has helped you as well! Well wishes, Sarah ( Team Member)

  • volsrider
    1 year ago

    Thanks for sharing. It is also my experience and is a good description to share with friends who want to know more.

  • LarryD
    1 year ago

    Thanks Jennifer for sharing, my experience thus far has been the same.

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